Over the course of the past month, Standard has largely been dominated by a handful of archetypes. Five-color ramp, Dimir midrange, and Esper midrange have all become huge parts of the metagame. The printing of cards like Cavern of Souls and Deep-Cavern Bat in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan played a big role in this development.
After that, a few more archetypes like mono-red aggro and Bant Poison largely round out the rest of the metagame. The format has seen very little innovation as a whole. As such, whenever a cool new archetype makes its presence felt, even in a more casual setting, it’s worth taking a look at. Today, we are going to do just that, examining a mono-red midrange deck that went 3-0 at a 3-round event in Japan.
This mono-red deck is nothing like the mono-red aggro decks that are looking to beat down. This deck is full of Planeswalkers, removal, and intriguing, improbable synergies that perhaps have found a home. Let’s start by taking a look at the core gameplan of the deck.
The main goal of this deck is to keep the board clear and win over time with some strong haymakers. The only Creature in the maindeck is Trumpeting Carnosaur, which doubles as interaction when necessary. If you can keep your opponent off-balance, you can start to pull ahead by slamming Planeswalkers onto an empty battlefield.Chandra, Dressed to Kill and Jaya, Fiery Negotiator provide you with card advantage for as long as you can keep them on the battlefield. Koth, Fire of Resistance, despite not having a super strong set of abilities, does threaten its ultimate rather quickly. Additionally, it helps guarantee that you can hit your Land drops for Carnosaur.
Keeping the Board Clear
One of the downsides of this style of gameplan, however, is that these Planeswalkers in particular don’t do a great job of protecting themselves. Koth can act as removal, but ideally, it’s best to try to race to the ultimate which will allow you to completely take over the game. This is where the deck’s vast removal suite comes into play.
For cheap, single-target removal, this deck makes good use of cards like Strangle, Invasion of Tarkir, and Abrade. Nahiri’s Warcrafting is a little more expensive but can help deal with more problematic Creatures like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. Nahiri’s Warcrafting also pairs perfectly with Invasion of Tarkir, since you can remove all of the defense counters from it at once, leaving you with a very powerful Dragon in the end.
To help further combat decks such as Bant Poison that can create wide board states rather quickly, Brotherhood’s End can clean up a bunch of small Creatures at once. This deck even goes a bit further, running Filigree Sylex which can cleanly answer a bunch of Skrelv’s Hive and Crawling Chorus tokens in an efficient manner.
Furthermore, because this deck is mono-colored, there’s a bit of room for utility Lands. Unlike traditional red aggro decks that might use man-Lands like Mishra’s Foundry in this slot, this archetype makes better use of Blast Zone as yet another way to help keep the board as clear as possible.
Where this deck starts to get extra spicy is with its utilization of a unique build-around card: All Will Be One. All Will Be One is a bit expensive, but in this style of deck, can completely take over the game almost by itself. First of all, the Enchantment is quite strong with Planeswalkers. The turn you play All Will Be One, you can plus any Planeswalker you have in play and immediately deal some damage to your opponent or a Creature or Planeswalker they control.
From there, any Planeswalker you play will also cause All Will Be One to deal more damage, as permanents entering the battlefield with counters works in your favor. Of course, All Will Be One triggers for any type of counter. This includes defense counters associated with Battles, making Invasion of Tarkir a perfect follow-up to the powerful Enchantment.
Undoubtedly the coolest interaction available, though, is with the use of The Millennium Calendar. On its own, The Calendar takes a long time to end the game. In conjunction with All Will Be One, though, winning the game becomes trivial. On your opponent’s end step, you can simply tap all of your Lands, then when you untap, a bunch of counters will go on The Calendar, allowing All Will Be One to deal a bunch of damage. Then, you can double the counters on The Calendar at will and eventually dome the opponent for a ton of damage!
Strengths and Weaknesses
This archetype definitely has a solid gameplan against Creature-heavy decks. Between Brotherhood’s End, The Filigree Sylex, and a bunch of targeted removal, this deck does a good job at preventing the opponent from gaining traction. On top of that, the Planeswalkers you have access to, along with All Will Be One, provide you with inevitability.
The biggest issue this deck has, though, is that it doesn’t pressure the opponent well. Five-color ramp seems like a disastrous matchup, for instance. Your removal spells are mostly dead, while Up the Beanstalk and Atraxa, Grand Unifier threaten to out-value you. Thanks to Leyline Binding, you can’t even reliably stick any of your Planeswalkers or All Will Be One to try to win the game that way.
Additionally, some threats, like Raffine, Scheming Seer, don’t die to most of this deck’s removal spells. This makes the midrange matchups a bit concerning and makes it surprising to see 0 copies of Lithomantic Barrage in the sideboard.
This archetype can definitely use some more tuning and is certainly on the casual side of things. That being said, it’s cool to see a plethora of cool, undervalues cards like All Will Be One working together in a unique shell. If you’re looking to beat up on aggro decks in a fun and amusing fashion, consider giving this deck a shot.